by Mike Fruitman
For many collectors, the most important week of the collecting year is when Topps Baseball Series One arrives, National Treasures is cracked open or the instant Upper Deck’s The Cup NHL cards come off the truck. For hobby shops however, there might not be a bigger week than this one. The NFL Draft can set the tone for an entire 12 months worth of football card sales.
Thursday night, we’ll all be watching to see if those picks can generate excitement among collectors.
I have owned Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo., a suburb of Denver, since 1992 and have found that whomever the Broncos select will play a significant role in how much football product I sell that year. More than any other sport, the NFL has become a year-round spectacle and there is no off-season when it comes to football boxes, packs and singles.
Having enjoyed years with Terrell Davis, Brian Griese (believe me, he sold very well early on), Jay Cutler (ditto) and more recently drafts with Tim Tebow and Von Miller, I have also endured draft picks like Robert Ayers, Jarvis Moss, Ashley Lelie, Marcus Nash and more. Suffice to say, Mr. Tebow had a MUCH greater impact on my business than Mr. Ayers.
Thanks to #15, I spent as much money restocking 2010 NFL releases in 2011 as I did on products from that season. Sure we can argue how good a spiral he can throw, but there was no debate on the incredible impact he had on my store, and many others during the Broncos winning streak or their win over the Steelers in the playoffs.
Of course Denver tends to bleed orange, but the hometown Broncos are far from the only team that moves our bottom line. I tend to pay particular attention when teams such as the 49ers, Packers and yes, even the hated Raiders have their picks announced at the podium by Roger Goodell.
When those teams go after position players like QBs, RBs and even WRs, it can play as big if not a bigger role in my store’s success as a Broncos pick. Let’s face it, when the Cowboys take a quarterback, the entire hobby tends to stop and pay attention.
The moment Broncos selected Tebow with the 25th pick last year, his available PressPass singles immediately went from hot to beyond en fuego. I had already planned on stocking multiple cases of each 2010 product. The addition of this particular Heisman Award winner to the Broncos ensured that every order form was immediately maxed out and more importantly, those products were sold out soon after release.
Another big year in NFL draft hobby history that stands out is 2004. When Ben Roethlisberger got his chance and started his impressive roll, he turned a popular class that featured Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Julius Jones into the must shred stuff of legend.
That year, there were high hopes in my neck of the woods that Tatum Bell would follow in the long line of Denver Bronco RB draft picks to rule the hobby. Tatum didn’t exactly turn out the way some of his predecessors had, but I still remember being fortunate that I had ordered deeply. Eli going to the Giants pretty much ensured 2004 was going to be a monster year and with each Steelers win, the lines for each new release only got longer.
Sure, the Colts have been on the clock since the end of last season, but the entire 2012 NFL trading card market is on the clock beginning with Andrew Luck. May your team avoid all duds and I am hoping John Elway can once again perform some last minute magic, and perhaps bring Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon to the Mile High City.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo. Enjoy new arrivals and big hits from Mike’s on Twitter. Mike’s is always looking for more friends on Facebook and you can email him at [email protected]